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Offering Prisoners a Second Chance Through Education | Freethink Stand Together


[buzzer] [voices echoing] What’s up, guys? How you doing? Now, we’re talking about what we’re doing right here, right now. We’re not talking about the past. We’re putting everything else that happened before
this moment behind us. 95% of these incarcerated men and women are returning to the community, with 68% returning back to
prison in the first three years. There’s a dichotomy here
that we’re struggling to fix. This is a country that’s
built on second chances but it ends at the prison system. There’s huge amount of
guilt with the men and women that have gone to prison. But through this college
program that we’ve created, they’re realizing that
they can take their future and really make it very different than what they’ve seen in the past. Because education has
given them those tools. As someone that went to
prison, I know firsthand that this is one of the key components to helping fix this problem. When I was 16 years old I
shot and killed a person and I received a 24-year
sentence for that. When I tried to wrap
my head around the fact that I took a human life, the world got really small, really quickly. And while I was sitting
there thinking about how I failed everybody, one of
the officers came to my cell and he just said to me, “Is
there any chance I could get you “to help me work with
some of the other men?” At that point in my life as a teenager, I thought I had no value at all. But as the older man pulled
me on the side and said, “Man, I heard you could help me. “You’re one of the most
educated guys around.” So, I began to read to these
men, in an effort to get them to learn to read and write. And you fast forward 19 years later, and we have 588 students, six sites. It’s incredible and it was all born and came right out of this place. The students will talk
about this education. They talk about it being a new lens and how that new lens gives
them a way to look at the world in a different way that they’ve
never known even existed. I’m fourth generation male
incarcerated in my family. I took my gift for numbers
to become a drug dealer. I took my gift of gab to
negatively peer pressure other people into getting
in the game with me. The education was very important because I didn’t realize the connection between what I already knew,
my natural talent, and success. We wanna work with the student that everyone else has given up on. This is an accredited,
degree-granting college program. Their degree does not say
University of Sing Sing, it says Nyack College,
it says Mercy Vollege, it says Columbia University. I have seen the rippling
effect of that one degree as it goes into their
families, their children, their neighbors, their community. We are truly helping the community through this one person
and this one degree. And we’re looking at a
very different future. Welcome home, man. Yes, babe. I need some clothes. Let’s get some clothing, let’s do it. Let’s get it done. You know my dreaming,
always been to give back to some of the communities that I damaged, because a lot of the kids
that come up behind me, they look up to me for
all the wrong reasons. So I wanna change that. When the students are getting out and they get to this clothing
area, for a lot of them, they left when they were teenagers. Now they’re coming back in
their late 30’s or early 40’s. There’s no clothing, there’s no nothing. All the education in
the world is worthless if you don’t have a clean shirt. We have 10 racks of
business attire to help you be employable on the outside. That’s good, let’s put
this one on the side. I appreciate you all, man. It’s not just about how
the community looks at you, but it’s about looking
at yourself and knowing that you could be different
enough to start over. There’s a quote by Victor Hugo that goes, “There’s nothing like a
dream to create the future.” “Education made us who we
are,” Claude A. Helvetius. Dr. Martin Luther King said, “The best way “to solve a problem is
to remove its cause, “and you can’t solve a
problem with the same logic “that created it.” Proud to say that this
June I will be graduating with my bachelor’s degree. [applause] The students that we’re
working with upon release, our alumni coordinator is
finding them employment in five or six weeks. That’s good if you’ve
never been in prison. We’re telling the stories
about second chances. Through this college
program that we’ve created, we have a less than one
percent recidivism rate, but it’s really a 99% success rate. We’re sending a message of hope.

48 Replies to “Offering Prisoners a Second Chance Through Education | Freethink Stand Together”

  • No matter if you did something bad in the first place you can get the second chance that people needs in their lifes and focus on their futures 😊

  • Finely someone is fixing the US's prison system. I hope they keep going on strong and given those how are willy to work for a better future.

  • I usually love this channel, but this video just turns my stomach. I wholeheartedly support this kind of thing for non violent offenders, but if this kind of thing is open to murderers and rapists then its a problem. This country was founded on second chances, but when someone has ripped someones life away from them, leaving their loved ones hollow inside, they lose that privilege. When you violently rape a child, thats when I stop giving a shit about your college education. On another note, to the spokesman this video centers on: Fuck you, you miserable excuse for a human being. No amount of good that you do will ever cleanse the stain of murder from your moral record, nor will it outweigh the pain and suffering you’ve caused.

  • Andy Dufresne? J/k
    I think it’s great that he is helping trying to fix a broken system. Need more people willing to help.

  • Listen. My science education teacher is a small lady, and had been hired to teach inmates. All the other teachers and officers believed she wouldn't last a few weeks, and some made bets on their guesses. She never had a single fight, a single problem, nor a single argument. Why? She kept their hands occupied and minds churning. She told us this because she also teaches the Teaching Science class in my college and the one mistake teachers make is not entertaining the children while focused on a group of them and not the others. You need to have activites and fun for those kids who aren't in the group, otherwise you'll have trouble.

  • Great video, only problem is that society, at least here in IL wants to keep you down. I had a high profile job in the military, people loved what I did and was able to help many folks. I had dignity and made a difference while earning almost $90K a year. I have 2 Master's degrees. Then 3 years ago I went to jail for 5 months. Now, I earn under $20K, even less last year. I've gone through my money for lawyers in appeals, trying to keep a roof over my head and food on the table. My friends have walked away and I'm about to loose everything. All I can get is a job as a cook (and even that's hard to get.) Forget being a counselor. I'd love to teach or work with the newly released, but that's a no-go. A priest-friend of mine with a PhD went to jail for financial stuff. He got a job as a pizza driver, but eventually he starved to death. Yup…no shit. Forget all the value that we have before hand; society says that my education, experience and potential are irrelevant. No wonder the suicide rate after prison is so high. Recidivism can be seen as the only way to stay alive, prison at least feeds you. Remember, when you get out, make good healthy connections – they're lifelines and will help keep you alive and hopeful.

  • When this program grows, you will never fully understand the tremendous significance of this concept. You may have taken his life, but you are honoring him by doing this….

  • Bullshit! Only 3-5% of all inmates take collage course work. They must first be accepted before they even begin, so they are only taking the most intelligent inmates. Then must do the work, again weeding out anyone who does not have the self discipline. If during there time taking the collage level work they get in serious trouble they can be dropped from the program. Nothing against an inmate taking collage courses but maybe they should focus first on ethics before they take art history.

  • I came from the ad. It’s awesome what school can do. Especially coming from me, a 12 year old that dislikes school

  • Got this ad. Tracked the video down to just say, way to go. I would never expect this level of remorse, intelligence, or much else in this video from someone I perceived as a hardened criminal.

    There is definitely a way to rehabilitate criminals and I’m glad to see there is actual progress being made with that idea.

  • Saw this as an ad, so I left the video I was watching to come and give this a like. Love this organization.

  • That's all good and all but 99% of places won't even hire you if you are a felon for at least 7 to 10 years after your conviction and rent an apartment or a house forget about it! And then if your paroled or probation most set you up for failure and I know I've been to prison twice and jail even longer all added up. All this was because I got high on drugs not for selling it not for making it but just for having it. It took me a long time many years to get to where I'm at and that's in a semi truck that I will own in November 2018 and that's all I have, no house no nothing 43 years old life was ruined for getting high that's a fucking joke! They need to revamp the whole system don't believe this bullshit commercial it's a joke!

  • he sounds a bit like Ray Zancanelli from Breakout Kings in the beginning of the video. plus, sing is a big part of that show as well

  • This is my dream too. Not just be a Prison educator, but also create an organization that gives them new clothes and a job opportunity. This spring I will be taking an English course that gives free and incarnated a chance to see and learn as equals.

  • Wow, the college program changed a 68% recidivism rate to a 1% recidivism rate. That's pretty impressive.

  • Great! Wish i could find one who wants to change for good and be part of a community farm project. That doesnt want to just go back to what doesnt work. But to make a difference. Garden of Hope project.

  • I love this and I think this is nothing but positive and amazing especially for something within the United States prison system. But if I can be completely open and honest, I have a hard time not being a little bitter with the fact that I have 30k in student loans from obtaining my bachelors degree. And they are getting the same accredited degree that is being payed for with my taxes.

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